UCSB study: Plastic in our oceans affecting seabirds globally

Aug 31, 2015

A study published Monday out of UC Santa Barbara shows the vast majority of seabirds have eaten plastic at some point in their lives and currently have plastic particles in their bellies. 

A blue-footed booby surrounded by plastic waste.
Credit NCEAS

The research comes out of the university's National Center for Ecological Analysis (NCEAS) and Synthesis and said plastic debris in our oceans is now having a global impact on avian marine species.

The study estimates 90 percent of individual seabirds currently alive have consumed some form of plastic.

LeAnne French is the Director of Programs with NCEAS and said marine debris has been studied extensively, so for this study, researchers compiled the known data.

"They've—for the first time—were able to calculate the millions of metric tons of plastic waste that enter the ocean and then they studied what is the impact of all that plastic waste on seabirds," said French.

In 1960, plastic was found in the stomachs of roughly 5 percent of seabirds, and scientists now predict that number will be 99 percent by 2050.